GDP on Wine

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

San Francisco 1/21-1/24 ZAP it

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 8, 2013.

I'm headed out west on my first trip of the year. First stop is three days worth of wineries in Santa Cruz, recommendations sought for the best dining options in San Jose and Santa Cruz. No need to fancy, just someone doing something awesome or unusual with great ingredients.

Then it's on to SF for a party with Kettle Chips and some fun beer and booze pairings that, lucky for me, leads right into ZAP!

On Friday I'm attending the flights tasting, but I'm skipping the grand dinner so am free to make some plans if anyone is around. Saturday I have the grand tasting from 10 until i can't do it anymore, probably around 2, then free for dinner again.

Might want to try Donato Enoteca in Redwood City on Saturday night then stay at the airport Saturday night before my flight.

So anyone going to ZAP?




Reply by EMark, Jan 9, 2013.

Greg, not exactly my stomping ground, but I am trying to track down a former colleague who lives in San Jose and used to live in Santa Cruz (although that was a while back).  So far telephone and e-mail have not, yet, panned out.  I think we're still on good terms.  So, I will just blame it on her schedule.

It doesn't sound like you're going to be that close to Monterey, but if you do get down there, Phil's in Moss Landing is great for seafood.  As I recall their wine list is not much to brag about, but I'm sure you can BYO.  The last time I was there--years ago--they had a pretty good Blue Grass group.  I'm pretty sure that was on a weekend.

Also, for what it's worth, I stumbled onto this guy's (Martin Redmond, a blogger) report on an interesting tasting at the Ridge Monte Bello location.  It sounds like Christopher Watkins, the Tasting Room Manager there, is a pretty interesting character.  The tasting consisted of three blind flights of three wines.  One of the flights consisted of the samples of the same wine--one from a magnum, one from a standard 750 ml bottle and one from a half-bottle.

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 13, 2013.

I agree in theory with EMark on Phil's in Moss Landing. I have heard nothing but good, but I am allergic to all fish/shellfish.  Being near the ocean, there are many sources of phenomenal fresh fish, especially on the wharf in Santa Cruz proper.  But since I am allergic, I cannot advise :-(

For the area you reference, my number one recommendation is Manresa in Los Gatos.  Others would be Ristorante Avanti in Santa Cruz, and Cin Cin is a fun wine bar/restaurant in Los Gatos.

If you are indeed going down to the Monterey/Carmel area, I am happy to give a plethora of recommendations.

In general, Santa Cruz is very casual, with local producers of various foods abounding.  It is pretty common for us to grab a sausage on a roll from Corralitos Market and head over to Alfaro Vineyards, one of my favorite wine producers in the area.  (Try the Lindsay Paige Pinot).

There is also a charcuterie that is great near some tasting rooms on the westside of santa cruz -

If on the westside, ck out Equinox Wine cellars, producers of some of the best sparkling in California:

And just outside Los Gatos, in Santa Cruz Mountains, do NOT, NOT miss Big Basin Vineyards    Bradley Brown is doing some great sh^% in them there hills! 

Loma Prieta winery has some interesting Pinotage, a varietal I have never previously been much of a fan of.  But if you make it to this highest peak (with an amazing view), try the Pinotage vertical tasting.  I really like it.  Don't make this a last stop... the drive up is a bit precarious.

I have to go to a movie right now, but can add more later.  Again, if you are going south of Santa Cruz, let me know as I have some great recommendations down in Monterey area.


Reply by ColleeninCA, Jan 21, 2013.


I'm Mark's former colleague, but late to the party, I see. Apologies - work travel has been out of control.

If you still have the opportunity, check out Hay Market in Willow Glen (San Jose). Owner Joe uses fresh, locally sourced seasonal ingredients, and the menu changes daily. His father makes the charcuterie, and he recently purchased a farm in the south county and plans to raise his own livestock. The beer and wine lists are interesting and reasonably priced. It is a favorite "go to" restaurant for me and my friends.

If you make it to Redwood City, there's a new pizza place on Broadway: Vesta ttp://

Excellent pizzas and rustic Italian dishes. Mostly California wines on the wine list.

In Santa Cruz, I hope you found VinoCruz wine bar and store.

They stock only Santa Cruz Mountain wines, and have a weekly tasting menu. I belong to their wine club - that's how I first heard about the Fantastic Big Basin Winery mentioned above by NapaGirl68.

Also in Santa Cruz, Shadowbrook Restaurant is kind of a cliche "must go" place, but it's really in a spectacular setting, and the bar is comfortable. On Wednesday nights they have "Winemaker Wednesday" featuring wine flights from a local winery. Last week was Cinnabar - their Mercury Rising blend continues to be a winner for me.

I hope that gave you some ideas ... maybe for your next trip west!

Cheers, Colleen  

Reply by Erica Landin, Jan 23, 2013.

Am I too late to pitch in? The restaurant at the Bonny Doon tasting room is good, and Randall Graham might recommend you a taco place. Skip it, there are better ones ;)

Christopher at Ridge is a really cool guy. Send him my love if you go by there.

Are we on for Thursday still?

Reply by napagirl68, Jan 23, 2013.

sorry ahead of time,  but I have some negative comments... JMHO, of course.

SKIP Bonny Doon....  ok wines, decently priced, food ok, but your time is best spent elsewhere.  I was a wine club member for 5 minutes, until rudeness, lack of customer service caused me to CANCEL.  I have the emails to back this up, if someone wants to PM me.  As I said, wines were decent, and price was low which was why I joined.  Restaurant did not impress me.

Shadowbrook in Capitola IS a cliche, and not a "must go", IMO.  I have been there, and found it overpriced, mediocre at best, and full of tourists.


Reply by ColleeninCA, Jan 23, 2013.

The restaurant at the Bonny Doon tasting room closed at the end of 2012. 

Reply by Anna Savino, Jan 24, 2013.

guess I am too late but here is what my friend in San Jose sent me: Could be useful for others:)


Regarding SJ grub...I am afraid I am not an expert yet in this area! We've only been here for a few months and I was unemployed for the majority of them so restaurants have not really been high on the priority list. I will say that there is this awesome vegan Vietnamese place on Santa Clara and 9th called Tofo Chom Chay that is super cheap and pretty bomb for a good, healthy lunch. The pho is the thing to get. I'm actually planning on going there today. Japantown on the north side of downtown has some great sushi, a good ramen joint and one really cool Hawaiian place that has live ukulele on the weekends. There is also an amazing, traditional karaoke place down there called Bamboo lounge that is a TRIP if he/she feels like sitting in a dark booth drinking cheap drinks and watching some serious karaoke. Best coffee ever: Philz on Paseo de San Antonio. It could be the best American coffee I've ever had. It's like a wine bar with options and tasting notes. Inexpensive. Oh there is a rad beer and sausage place on First St. called the Original Gravity Public House - gourmet dogs (think rabbit-fennel sausage) and amazing microbrew/import list. Fun little scene in there, too. La Victoria is a well known taco shop down here that is pretty special -- it's all about the (non-citrus) orange sauce. That's about all I can offer at this point!

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 24, 2013.

Oh my god this is so up my alley. In a previous life I manufactured a line of sausages so this is where I'm going to be eating on Monday night! Original Gravity Public Housse

La victoria will be on Tuesday!

Reply by Anna Savino, Jan 24, 2013.


Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 24, 2013.

Gotta say I agree with NG about Bonny Doon.  Both Randall Graham and his friend Kermit Lynch fail to impress me.  The BD wines are fine, but far from exciting.  They are inexpensive, you can say that much for them. 

Not surprised the restaurant closed--it was plagued with problems from the start.  Seems Graham hired the sous chef from Manresa and wanted him to subdue the food to the wine.  Seems the chef had a different idea.  The construction went over budget, the food was going to be a huge money loser, and the clash of egos was too great. 

So, Greg, after Tuesday, any chance we see you up in San Francisco before I have to leave town? 

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